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Second Lufthansa pilots' strike looms

DDP/The Local · 3 Apr 2010, 18:09

Published: 03 Apr 2010 18:09 GMT+02:00

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After agreeing to arbitration over pay and job security, the airline and the union are now battling over how to get arbitration up and running.

Lufthansa has demanded that the pilots’ union Cockpit – representing some 4,000 pilots – agrees to call off strike action before talks about arbitration can go ahead.

But a Cockpit spokesman said on Saturday the union refused to let “the strike pressure slip away.”

“Lufthansa wants something from us, it wants to avert damage to the company and therefore they have make the first move,” he said. “If they don’t back off from their position, then a strike will definitely happen from April 13.”

The spokesman accused Lufthansa of playing for time.

But Lufthansa spokesman Klaus Walther said on Saturday the airline still expected the pilots to cancel the strike.

“Anyone who is serious about arbitration has to commit fully to it,” he said.

He stressed that Lufthansa had already suffered “enormous damage” by the mere threat of the strike action from April 13 to 16. Thousands of travellers had already booked with other airlines for these dates.

Lufthansa had previously made the acceptance of the preliminary negotiations about the timing, format and leadership of the arbitration conditional on a withdrawal of the strike threat – a demand Cockpit dismissed as “blackmail.”

The union has said it would only agree to rule out industrial action if the form and scope of the arbitration – including when it starts and who mediates it – is clear.

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The union spokesman countered: “Whoever is serious about arbitration doesn’t offer the arbitration with simultaneous threats of claims for damages and one-sided non-compliance with the agreement.''

Lufthansa had previously threatened the union with claims for damages worth millions of euros.

The dispute, which centres on the airline’s plan for a 21-month pay freeze, led to a round of walkouts in February, but that planned four-day strike was cut short after a day by a Frankfurt court. Nevertheless, it led to about 2,000 flight cancellations and, according to Lufthansa, cost the airline about €48 million.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

20:40 April 3, 2010 by wood artist
As someone who is going to be directly affected by this brawl, I would strongly suggest that the union needs to get their act together.

You don't strike for higher wages when the company you work for is losing money. Doh! Where would higher wages come from?

Sure you feel like you've been treated poorly. Maybe, objectively, you have. I don't know much about that, but I do know that you have a job, and a whole lot of people don't.

Maybe, if you win, you'll put the whole airline out of business...and then those higher wages you're not getting because you no longer have a job will look really, really good. Right?

Be glad you have a job. Be glad you get to go to work. Be glad you're not like a whole lot of others who are living on unemployment and wondering where they can find work. If I end up sitting in some airport, stranded because you feel "entitled" you can bet I won't be flying with you again. And if a bunch more like me feel the same way, you'll be looking for work because the planes will be empty!

Wake up!

22:01 April 3, 2010 by mhdamro
Well said wood artist....................
23:45 April 3, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, the irony is that it takes intelligence to be an airline pilot. And yet they want to strike for more money.

The court should step in again.
00:54 April 4, 2010 by goody
Im planning to fly out of canada on the 4 of May Had I known all this bullshit was going on I would have went with Air Canada.Be greatful for what you guys have And stop WHINING how bad you have it If I had your money I would burn mine
21:53 April 4, 2010 by Bensonradar
Well said tech71.

Don't Lufthansa pilots study basic economics or business models at school? No profit equals no airline. Upset the customers, and they vote with their feet. Airlines offering similar services simply mop up, Lufthansa's credibility takes a nose-dive [excuse pun] and passengers think twice before booking again.

Unions sticking their head in the sand is so 1970s. Get real, it's business, ask any store owner.

However, considering the competition and low-cost flight options available, Lufthansa pilots and BA cabin crew seem determined to destroy their companies and end their careers.

However, maybe it's about time the staff who work for the traditional airlines got a good shaking. The low cost airlines who jump in quick and offer a basic service at cheap prices fly more people as they charge less.

The economics of the low-cost business model drives business class and tourist class passengers to use them. When recession bites, people chose the cheaper options. Just look at low-cost supermarkets.
04:05 April 6, 2010 by wood artist

You're right that my personal plight is not the reason the pilots should change their plans. It is, or should be, one consideration. It's not about me at all, but it certainly is about the people who pay the money to keep the planes in the air and the pilots working at all.

Job security is an interesting idea. If you ran a company, would you promise your employees that you would never cut back on jobs or keep them around even if the business couldn't support having them? Of course not. From a business perspective, it makes no sense.

Years ago, in the US, the railroad engineers went on strike. The issue? The companies were transitioning from steam to diesel locomotives, and the companies wanted to dispense with the position of "fireman" since the diesels didn't require such a position.

It was truly ugly, with physical confrontations, fights, and even some shootings.

Okay, that was a long time ago, but the idea remains the same. The union threatens (or takes action) to protect jobs that can not be economically maintained by the companies. In the end, guess what happens?

In the case of the rail strike, a whole new industry was built...the trucking business. Why? Well, the railroads were forced to price themselves right out of the game, mainly because they had to pay for this "extra" person who did absolutely nothing.

The same problem...inflated labor costs...have taken Detroit to its knees, and it's likely the old US auto industry will not recover. Chrysler is probably going to die in the next couple of years, and GM is certainly questionable. Both would have failed without the government helping them out.

Lufthansa is up against a whole lot of competition, some selling cheaper fares while others are simply taking some of the customers through advertising and the like. The company is losing money, and every "guaranteed" position puts them in a more difficult position, where they have to fly because they have employees and planes, not because the market will support them.

This is not about me, or any other single customer. This is about a business model, dictated by the union, that can not be sustained.

09:38 April 6, 2010 by Essertpitay
I do not think the US railway industry died because of the extra "non-fireman" on diesel engines...

Workforce tend to follow real leadership, but they do not buy the cockamamie that overpaid and (most of the times, incompetent) top management is trying to sell them...
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